‘Poker Face’ Brought Us Its Most Columbo Episode Yet With … Race Car Driving?
Peacock’s Poker Face, which was just renewed for a second season, is still airing its first season and keeping audiences on the edge of their seats week after week. With episode 7 “The Future of the Sport,” the show falls into a perfect Columbo-style format—something the series as a whole has followed pretty much to a T, but there was something about episode 7 that really just stood out from the rest.
Charlie Cale (Natasha Lyonne) finds herself working in a town that has a big race car driving scene. She’s working at an arcade, and while the episode itself doesn’t have a murder, it does have a lot of sabotage that results in someone getting hurt. The episode starts with Keith (Tim Blake Nelson) losing a race, right before his retirement, to a young driver named Davis (Charles Melton).
Instead of taking the loss like a man who has had a great career, he lashes out and calls Davis names and the two get into a fight on live television. It is through a series of angry outbursts from both men that we end up with Keith sabotaging Davis’ car and forcing him to crash during a training session. This is all in the prologue for the episode, prior to us seeing how Charlie is involved, and what really drives home how much this is our “modern” version of Columbo is in the reveal of what actually happened.
Maybe it is because I just watched the episode, but this episode of Poker Face reminds me a lot of Columbo season 1 episode 4, “Suitable for Framing,” in that you sort of know what is going on, and it’s how the lies are woven into the story that is fascinating.
The ole bait and switch
Twice during this episode, we are led to believe one thing, and then it twists and shows us another—the first being that Davis wasn’t driving the car, and the second being that he saw Keith sabotage it and tricked Keith’s daughter Katy (Jasmine Aiyana Garvin) into driving the car instead—which plays into my point about the lies. We can figure that out as the audience, but the question becomes how will Charlie figure it out and how is she going to call both Davis and Keith out.
In the Columbo episode I was referring to, he tricks the murderer in question into confirming that there’s a framing happening. In Poker Face, a similar tactic is used with Davis as he’s trying to frame Keith for the second part of his plan.
Because yes, Keith is guilty. He tampered with Davis’ car and could have gotten him killed, but Davis took it further and tampered with the seatbelt and put Keith’s daughter in the car as a way of getting back at him. And, as Charlie says, that makes Davis a psycho.
The show as a whole has felt like Columbo to me because of Lyonne’s energy and the “how-catch-em” of it all, but this one in particular really has the makings of a classic case from the series but with a modern twist, and I love it. Episode 7 is surprisingly addictive and really plays with our instant connections to characters in a fascinating way. I thought that Davis was such a sweet and innocent character during the prologue, only for his wickedness to rear its head in the latter half of the episode, and it was just a fantastic watch.
(featured image: Phillip Caruso/Peacock)
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